Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ready or Not. . . .


This is the question that's been on my mind for the last month or so since I took the leap -- again -- into trying to write a single title romance. How do I know I'm ready? How do I know if my writing has evolved enough, if my idea is good enough, or if at this very moment I'm giving agents everywhere a good belly laugh?

One day I'm sure the book is brilliant, and the next day I kick myself for sending out any queries at all. But I figure the only way to know I'm ready is to throw things out into the world and find out.

I never had to worry about this before. I wrote my first book a few years ago and I guess I was ready because it sold and here I am with book number seven, Untouched. So maybe we can't know if we're ready or not until the results are in.

I love writing category, but some ideas don't fit, and I think it's natural for us to always want to push the limits, to push for something more. And maybe there's just no concrete starting point, no perfect time to jump. Seems to me writers are often mental adrenaline junkies, always pushing the edge with our ideas and seeing how far we can go. Sometimes we get up limping, but we keep moving.

I guess that's where I am now. I wasn't ready the first time I tried this a few years ago, and I found that out because the book didn't sell (thankfully, really, I'm so grateful that editors saw I wasn't ready), though I learned a lot in the process. I think I'm ready now, or maybe I'm closer to ready. Maybe I'll get a little farther along, if nothing else, I'll bandage up the bumps and bruises I might receive in the process, and keep going.

How have you known you were ready to take on larger projects, or to make a move in a new direction? Were you sure at the start, or did you just jump and find out later?

Sam

4 comments:

Amie Stuart said...

I think you have to have a project you're really passionate about--at least that's what happened for me. I've never written a paranormal, never thought I could, but my CP and I found a story idea we love and we're doing it together and it's been a total blast!

L. Faye Hughes said...

Great post, Sam. Personally, I think that none of us will know if we're *ready* for the next stage of our careers until we take that blind leap of faith.

Best of luck with your search for an agent and a home for your new "baby".

Faye

Christie Craig said...

Sam,

This is a great post. It's so easy to say, "follow your heart," and you'll know what's right– that you’ll know which direction to push your career, the right genre, the right time, that you’ll know the right path to venture down. I’m a firm believer in listening to the heart. But at time I’ve accused my heart of speaking in riddles, giving only clues, or being way too vague. Then there’s times when I come across a fork in the road, and I ask my heart, "Now which way?" I swear, some of those times my heart is off counting sand grains in the desert, and I’m certain I’m on my own.

I sold my one and only “fiction” book, a Silhouette Romance, back in 94. Unable to sell the second, I stopped writing novels and worked in nonfiction. Five years ago, I decided to try again. After five long years of taking many different paths, I finally realized my dream by selling four single title books, practically all in the same day. Now, when I look at the things I tried, I realize that all those paths have led me where I am. I was and am constantly evolving, growing, and learning. So many things– things that at one time appeared to be failures – have magically transformed into big successes.

The book I wrote as a flipside that didn’t sell, evolved into one of my single titles that did sell. The chick lit novel that didn’t sell, with revisions, also sold as a single title. The screenplay I wrote? It is now a proposal. The historicals? Okay, they may not sell, but it was by writing those three books that I learned how to pace a longer book. And who knows, I may pull them out of the closet if my heart ever whispers that message in my ear.

I wish you luck with your single title submission. Keep following your heart – I know I am, even when it’s scary and when I’m not completely sure if I’m hearing it correctly. And if things don’t turn out the way I want, I’ll keep reminding myself that today’s mistakes may be the stepping stones to tomorrow’s successes.

CC

Samantha Hunter said...

Thanks folks! How helpful to hear this, and it's a good reminder that this can be a long journey, and if you get a setback, it's really all in how you handle it. Setbacks are just how you see something at any given time. I really do love the idea of the book I have out there now, but I don't know if I wrote it the right way, if that makes any sense. I guess I wrote it in the only way I could right now, but your stories have given me a huge boost that even if it's not right at the moment, it's another step on the path... Seems like whenever you see a bend coming up in said path, it's the same clutch in the chest you get driving on CNY roads -- will I make it around this time? Better slow down, take it easy, LOL. Difficult when patience isn't your strong point! ;)

Sam